That Wasn't Just a New-Car Smell

Hyundai says it's solved the mystery odor in some Palisades and will take care of it
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2020 1:51 PM CST
Hyundai Tracks Down 'Dirty Socks' Smell
A 2021 Hyundai Palisade.   (Hyundai via AP)

When drivers opened the door to their new Hyundai Palisade, they often were hit with more than that new-car smell, or even pride of ownership. Some people described the odor as much like dirty socks, or body odor, or onions, or cabbage, or just simply "really bad." It bothered some people more than others, and some didn't smell it at all, reports. Either way, Hyundai says it's solved the mystery involving certain 2020 and 2021 Palisades, giving owners hope of someday being able to roll the windows up, after investigating since at least August, per Business Insider. The automaker said the odor emanates from the imitation leather head restraints in models with the Palisade Limited and Calligraphy trim levels and Nappa leather seats. Hyundai has told its dealers how to address the problem, per Autoblog.

The cure involves removing the upholstery from the headrests and spraying it with a chemical. If that doesn't do it, owners can take their Palisade back for another round. If the vehicle still reeks, the dealer will replace the headrests. "It's a rare occurrence that they have to replace all seven headrests," a spokesman said. Owners won't be charged. There won't be an official recall, Hyundai said, because it's not a safety issue. The automaker said it's made a change in its manufacturing process that should solve the problem in future Palisades. The facts that everyone doesn't notice the smell, and those who do often describe it differently, slowed the investigation, Hyundai said. Some owners said dealers told them to allow time for the odor to fade, and some reported wasting money on interior cleaning to try to get rid of the smell themselves. (More Hyundai stories.)

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